Exchange-traded fund (ETF)


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.

An exchange-traded fund (ETF) is an investment fund traded on stock exchanges, much like stocks. An ETF holds assets such as stocks, commodities, or bonds, and trades close to its net asset value over the course of the trading day. Most ETFs track an index, such as a stock index or bond index.
Unlike mutual funds, an ETF trades like a common stock on a stock exchange. ETFs experience price changes throughout the day as they are bought and sold. ETFs typically have higher daily liquidity and lower fees than mutual fund shares, making them an attractive alternative for individual investors.

Because it trades like a stock, an ETF does not have it's net asset value (NAV) calculated once at the end of every day like a mutual fund does.

An ETF is a type of fund which owns the underlying assets (shares of stock, bonds, oil futures, gold bars, foreign currency, etc.) and divides ownership of those assets into shares. The actual investment vehicle structure (such as a corporation or investment trust) will vary by country, and within one country there can be multiple structures that co-exist. Shareholders do not directly own or have any direct claim to the underlying investments in the fund; rather they indirectly own these assets.
ETF shareholders are entitled to a proportion of the profits, such as earned interest or dividends paid, and they may get a residual value in case the fund is liquidated.

In the simplest terms, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are funds that track indexes like the NASDAQ-100 Index, S&P 500, Dow Jones, etc. When you buy shares of an ETF, you are buying shares of a portfolio that tracks the yield and return of its native index.

The main difference between ETFs and other types of index funds is that ETFs don't try to outperform their corresponding index, but simply replicate its performance. They don't try to beat the market, they try to be the market.

An ETF as a form of index fund, in the sense that is has the same goal: To provide investors with a benchmark return at minimal cost. There is one important difference, however. Index funds are costly to trade, while ETFs often trade commission-free.

In India in recent times, Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have gained a wider acceptance as financial instruments whose unique advantages over mutual funds have caught the eye of many an investor. These instruments are beneficial for Investors that find it difficult to master the tricks of the trade of analyzing and picking stocks for their portfolio. Various mutual funds provide ETF products that attempt to replicate the indices on NSE, so as to provide returns that closely correspond to the total returns of the securities represented in the index. ETF's available on NSE are diverse lot. Equity, Debt, Gold and International Indices ETF's are available.

Advantages of ETFs

Investors get the diversification of an index fund as well as the ability to sell short, buy on margin and purchase as little as one share (there are nominimum deposit requirements). Another advantage is that the expense ratios for most ETFs are lower than those of the average mutual fund. When buying and selling ETFs, you have to pay the same commission to your broker that you'd pay on any regular order.
There exists potential for favorable taxation on cash flows generated by the ETF, since capital gains from sales inside the fund are not passed through to shareholders as they commonly are with mutual funds.


Wednesday, 16th Dec 2015, 04:14:06 AM

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